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Lawmakers Block John Wayne Day Over Racism Accusations

| by Michael Allen

The California State Assembly shot down a tribute to John Wayne on April 28 because of racist comments made by the movie star before his death in 1979.

Republican State Assemblyman Matthew Harper wanted his fellow lawmakers to declare May 26, 2016 as "John Wayne Day," but the Oscar-winning actor's controversial past was brought up by opponents of the resolution, reports The Associated Press.

Democratic State Assemblyman Luis Alejo said the movie icon had "disturbing views towards race," and recalled what Wayne told Playboy Magazine in 1971:

With a lot of blacks, there’s quite a bit of resentment along with their dissent, and possibly rightfully so. But we can’t all of a sudden get down on our knees and turn everything over to the leadership of the blacks.

I believe in white supremacy until the blacks are educated to a point of responsibility. I don’t believe in giving authority and positions of leadership and judgment to irresponsible people.

Democratic State Assemblyman Mike Gipson, who is African-American, said Wayne's remarks were offensive.

Democratic State Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez recalled that Wayne slammed Native Americans in the same interview:

I don’t feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them, if that’s what you’re asking. Our so-called stealing of this country from them was just a matter of survival. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves.

Wayne, who was the top box office star for many years, also supported the House Un-American Activities Committee during its anti-communist witch hunt and the far-right John Birch Society.

Harper blamed the failure of his resolution on "the orthodoxy of political correctness," but didn't mention Wayne's racist statements.

Harper later said in a written statement, "Opposing the John Wayne Day resolution is like opposing apple pie, fireworks, baseball, the Free Enterprise system and the Fourth of July!"

Republican State Assemblyman Travis Allen added, "He stood for those big American values that we know and we love."

The resolution fell by a vote of 35-20.

Sources: Playboy, The Associated Press via The Washington Post / Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

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